My all-time favourite roasted chicken is labneh chicken, but that thing requires a 24-hour marinade, and sometimes I simply do not have the patience. I can’t however, place a chicken—naked and unloved—straight into the oven without any sort of treatment. In these rushed, marinade-less moments, I reach for my BFF: mayonnaise.
If you know me, you know I love mayonnaise, and have always thought it went beyond the sandwich. It’s a beautiful emulsifier—it makes salad dressings creamier and mashed potatoes dreamier—and it can help build a really nice sear on a steak. It works similar wonders on the skin of a chicken, with the sugars and proteins contributing to a nice golden skin. And unlike labneh, butter, or other dairyful options, mayo browns a little more slowly, so you don’t have to keep such a close eye on it. (I almost always end up covering a portion of the labneh chicken with foil to prevent burn spots; the extra bit of labour is worth it, but it can require a bit of vigilance.)
In terms of flavour, mayo doesn’t bring a ton, but you can mix all sorts of flavorful things into it with ease. Nigella Lawson adds Worcestershire sauce and crumbled bouillon to hers, but I went with Better Than Bouillon (the mushroom flavour), because I have a lot of that stuff. You can mix in whatever you want, though I would stay away from herbs, as those have a tendency to burn when applied to the outside of a chicken. (If you must use them into your mayo, put that mayo under the skin.)
A third of a cup of mayonnaise is plenty for most chickens, and a cube of bullion or teaspoon and half of BTB will flavour it nicely. Simply whisk the mayo with you flavourings until you have a visually homogenous mixture, then brush it all over the chicken with a pastry before roasting however you usually roast. (I even put some mayo inside the bird and it was good.) When you pull it out of the oven, you’ll have a beautiful bird with dark, golden, flavorful skin (and succulent meat), no marinade needed.